tiistai 19. syyskuuta 2017

Path to Glory: Sundamar Sallies Forth


Now with the Beardlings -tutorial series wrapped up I plunged straight into a local Path to Glory league. Last time I participated in a local league I played my new Aelves and ended up on top! You can read more on my previous foray into the world of friendly semi-competitiveness under Campaigns --> Aelves in the Local League on the sidebar menu to the right.

I was balancing in between my Stormcast Eternals and my Aelves to be taken as the army I would play, since the rules and regulations for the league demand fully painted armies on round bases (thus dropping my option of playing my favourite faction: the Duardin). Since I haven't played my Stormcasts that much and I have an urge to get some more stuff painted for my Aelves, I opted to go for the latter. It seems like Aelves have become my go-to choice for anything even remotely competitive!

I don't mind, though. Many of my other armies feature quite often in my battles, whether or not I write a report about them, and since I mostly play Narrative I don't care that much about base shapes or points or such. My Aelves, however, were acquired and built specifically for the previous league and I think of them as a "league army" in general. They tick all the boxes for the rules and regulations without being the most obvious or over-used faction choice people might face in settings like this. I also like the little bit of extra challenge this army poses to its player: nothing quite packs enough punch, nothing can take a punch and the only way to victory is superior tactics, luck and going determinedly for the objective.

In other words, it doesn't surprise me when I lose with this faction (I even kind of expect it by default) but by Asuryan does it feel good to score a victory with these feeble pointy-ears! They give you that "hard-fought, well earned" feeling when you manage to pull your weedy warriors through the hell of the battlefields.

Here is my glorious warband, House Blazeborn!

Lord Sundamar Blazeborn and his loyal companion A'undtur act as the champion for my warband. He is a Dragonlord choice which gives him 2 units of Followers. He is quite capable in combat and with A'undtur also (of course) breathing fire, he seemed like a good hybrid Champion choice that handles himself in melee, moves fast and can spit out mortal wounds at range. He is equipped with Quicksilver Potion for throwing my opponent's combat phase off balance and he is known to be a Master of Defence which makes him even more durable than he already is!

Blazeborn Household Knights form the rest of the mobility in my force, being able to cover vast distances on the field in a single turn. Let us hope that these 5 Dragon Blades live up to their reputation and save a day or three with their objective-grabbing capabilities.

The Rangers of the Jagged Coast are a unit of 10 White Lions who flesh out my force by boosting the total number of warriors. They hit hard and have special Abilities against the effects of battleshock so I expect them to be able to strike out on their own and hold a location if I tell them to do so. In a warband as mobile as mine, I needed a reliable infantry unit for anchoring down locations.

After taking the pic you see above, the Dragonlord's wings have been folded back, his horn in the left hand has been replaced with a shield and his base has been redone. You'll see the final result in the pics of the battle to follow.

This league advances in two-week cycles, giving each player two chances to show up at the club and play the game to be recorded in the league scoreboards. The very first scenario we played was Cornered!, in which a smaller warband tries to get its Champion out of an ambush alive. Should the escaping Champion be slain or reduced below half of his Wounds the victory would go to the ambusher, while escaping with his/her life would score a victory for the escapee. We added a single house rule to this scenario: the escape could not happen before the start of the 3rd battleround, so that flying models couldn't end the game too soon.

Lord Sundamar Blazeborn could hear the ranger approaching long before he came into view. Leaning against the slowly heaving side A'undtur, the aelf noble couldn't help but feel omnipotent. Dragons were ancient and intelligent beings with capabilities far beyond even the race of aelves. To be connected to such a creature through mind was to share a portion of their power, knowledge and characteristics. Sundamar's lips rose into a suppressed smile as he saw his knights only now turn their heads towards the sounds of the approaching scout. Aelves might posses exceptionally keen senses and acute hearing, but they were still nothing compared to those of a dragon's.

The fur-clad ranger came straight to his liege, offering a hurried and awkwardly shallow bow as a way of greeting. This was the closest thing these forest-dwellers could manage to courtly manners, Sundamar thought, before permitting the scout to report his findings.
"My lord, there is a ruined temple ahead with strange inscriptions carved onto its pillars. It might be the closest thing we have to a lead if we're ever to find Lord Aerelian in time," the Lion Ranger reported in an awfully practical and typically gruff manner.

Sundamar nodded and took a moment to arrange his thoughts. He had set out from his family estate some weeks ago with only a handful of loyal household knights for protection and a group of rangers from the Jagged Coast to lead the way. They were to locate the Loremaster of the nearby Dawnspire who had went missing on a quest to investigate troubling news of a new growing cult in the region. Some human locals along the way had been able to point them the general direction in which the Loremaster had traveled, and one village elder even told them of a vision he'd had the other night in which a lonely aelf was involved in a sacrificial ritual under a full moon.

"We should go to this temple your underling speaks of, the inscriptions might have some clues as to where we should look for the site of this ritual," A'undtur mind-sang inside Sundamar's head, audible only to the aelf lord.
"Can you translate them?" he sang silently in reply, immediately sensing amusement in the mind of the dragon and realizing the foolishness of his query. Of course the dragon could.
"Let us go, then," Sundamar continued out loud, turning his gaze to the knights.
"The rangers and I shall investigate a nearby location and return by nightfall. Wait here."
"M-my lord, we..." one of the knights started mumbling.
"You shall do as I say. Wait for my return, we will then resume our journey at first light," Sundamar commanded and reached for A'undtur. He climbed to the saddle and the dragon took to the air with a couple of powerful beats of its massive wings, gliding off into the horizon with a group of rangers following closely behind by land. The household knights were left watching worriedly at their lord's receding back as he flew off into unknown.

Sun was beginning to descend behind the hills as Lord Blazeborn studied the inscriptions on the temple's pillars. A'undtur was with him, silently mind-singing translations to the aelf.
"Seems clear enough," Sundamar finally broke the ostensible silence, drawing gazes from the Lion Rangers waiting outside.
"We're four nights from the full moon, and the perfect location for any lunar rituals lies only a dozen leagues north from where we stand now, in the Zendorn Foothills. Let us return to the others and..."

Just then one of the rangers ran inside, gesturing Sundamar to follow. He stepped outside into the warm light of the descending sun, only to lay his eyes upon a cloud of dust approaching them from the horizon. A'undtur sensed the lord's discomfort and climbed down from the roof of the temple ruins, mind-singing the words Blazeborn couldn't say himself.
"It seems we've walked into a trap, little one."

My warband started off in the middle, with the Dragonlord surrounded by the White Lions. Unfortunately I didn't take a pic before he started flying around in the first turn.
I got paired against Slaves to Darkness and my warband was the one to be surrounded. As I only got to bring half of my units to the field to protect my Champion, my opponent nominated my White Lions to accompany Lord Sundamar in the middle of the field to deny me the benefit of my Dragon Blades sharing a keyword with my Champion.

My warband got the first turn and so the game begun. My opponent had a mounted Chaos Lord, 5 Chaos Knights with Glaives and 10 Chaos Warriors with Halberds. Judging the Warriors to be the weakest link in his army and trying to get away from his faster units, I moved my units closer to the right flank. When it came to charging my Dragonlord made it easily, but the White Lions were left an inch short, leaving my Champion all alone in a bunch of angry enemies!

I had planned that the combined might of a dragon and some elite infantry would carve through the flank in no-time, letting me escape as soon as possible. Alas, as my White Lions failed miserably in their duties I had no choice but to try and finish what I had started with my Champion. To my surprise he did pretty well, taking the unit of Warriors from 10 to 5 models in a single round of combat without suffering a scratch himself!

Stranded in the middle of the no-man's-land, my White Lions got charged by the Chaos Lord and the Knights. The Chaos Knights alone inflicted around 16 Wounds to the unit of 10 aelves, trampling my poor infantry to the ground without mercy. On the right flank Lord Sundamar took 2 Wounds from the Warriors' Halberds before tearing the barbarians apart, inflicting exactly enough Wounds to wipe out the rest of the unit.

On the 2nd battleround I moved my Dragonlord as far away from the enemy as possible, and on my opponent's turn his units ran towards me as far as they could. Then we proceeded to roll to see who would get to pick the first turn of the 3rd battleround. The excitement in the room was palpable, for if the Aelves rolled higher the Dragonlord would escape and win the scenario, and if the Slaves to Darkness managed to score higher they would charge in easily and possibly take my Champion below half of his Wounds.

The dice were rolled and astonished gasps were heard.

A 5 for the Aelves...
....and a 2 for Chaos.

The Aelves had just scored their very first Minor Victory in this league!

A'undtur glided effortlessly amidst the clouds, rising above them every now and then with a few powerful wingbeats before diving down again. As they passed over a patch of forest merely inches above the treetops, the dragon sang to its rider.
"What a pleasant little exercise. I dislike the taste of the followers of the Dark Gods, but I can't help but enjoy their terrified screams as they realize they have no chance against me."
"This was too dangerous... We lost a whole troop of rangers to my recklessness!" Sundamar replied, still pale from the realization and the weight of lost lives upon him.
"We all make mistakes, little one. And we all learn from them."
Lord Blazeborn drew in a lungful of fresh air, gathering himself and his thoughts once more.
"I believe I have learned my lesson. Now let us make haste to reach the others, there's a Loremaster to be found!"

My choice of Champion really helped me out in this one. I usually roll more poorly the more dependent my victory is of the dice roll, but this time fortune smiled upon me and my warband. The next scenario is Sacrifice, in which one model from either warband will have to be rescued while the opposition seeks to murder him/her.

I rolled myself 3 Glory Points from this victory, bringing me 30% closer to the 10 Points required to attempt the final scenario through which the league can be won. I also got to either pick a Veteran Ability for one of my current units or to add a new Follower to my warband. I went for the additional unit to build up my force a bit. In any other situation I would've added 5 Reavers to my list for some ranged attacks, but now I'm forced to take a Loremaster in order to survive the next scenario. Each round the model being sacrificed loses a Wound, and the game ends once that model's Wounds reach 0. If I end up being the rescuer, I want my warband to have 5 turns (rather than 1 or 2) to save the poor fellow from that cruel fate!

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